The first vision I had of the Comox Valley was in December of 1996. The small tin can of an airplane that brought me here was loud and without luxury, but the views of Georgia Straight were astounding and I paid little attention to whether we’d land safely or not! Lush green forests completely filled the innumerable mountains up to snow filled peaks, while the coastlines of Vancouver Island and all the gulf islands went on forever.
In 1996 there were 17,000 people living in Courtenay. It was both quaint, with its 5th street shops, and full of potential, with dozens of undeveloped gems. There were only stop signs at 17th and Cliffe, 17th and the hwy, Ryan Road and Back Road. Lerwick was a two lane country Road with no lights at all. It ended at Mission Road and there was forest between Courtenay and Comox. The road to Mount Washington was gravel for the last two Kilometres and places like Barber’s Hole and the Medicine Bowls were reclusive getaways.
Today, there are over 24,000 people in Courtenay, a testament to how alluring the city is, and it is expected to continue to grow at about 2% per year (10,000 more people in 20 years).
I imagine a downtown core that is alive with people both living and shopping. Mixed residential and commercial zoning for the downtown core along with secondary suites, carriage houses, and granny flats for the rest of the downtown areas will greatly reduce urban sprawl, lower infrastructure costs, increase our tax base and relieve pressure on rental rates and better support small businesses.
Transportation throughout the city is both efficient and safe whether you are 8 years old or 80 years old. Those who do not have the means or desire of a full time private vehicle have fair access to sidewalks, pathways, and lanes to walk, cycle, scooter, wheelchair, or otherwise to get to school, work and recreation. A comprehensive plan will save millions of taxpayers dollars by allowing the vehicle traffic to flow on our existing roads and bridges.
In terms of jobs and economic growth, I see Courtenay moving towards growing markets that do not threaten the viability of our existing aquaculture, fisheries, and tourism industries. Apparel manufacturing, Information Technologies, Solar Energy, and Health Care Services are all growing and viable businesses that will diversify and strengthen our local economy.
I also see a community that continues to look after its less fortunate citizens and acts more creatively on the issue of homelessness. Solutions will come when we move from an old way of thinking to being pioneers of the future. Addressing problems, such as homelessness, and investing in solutions will make Courtenay both a better place to live and its community more prosperous.
Together, let’s build a more vibrant and progressive Courtenay!